Roundup: AquaFit, Crabbing, River of Roses …

Westport has been the setting for many films.

But forget “The Gray Flannel Suit,” “The Swimmer” and “The Stepford Wives.”

My favorite is “Below Surface.”

The 20-minute documentary focuses on an unlikely subject: the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s AquaFit program.

Yet thanks to Patty Kondub — the energetic, creative and much-loved instructor who is the heart and soul of both the program and the film — the camaraderie, joy and, yes, life-saving experience that is AquaFit come vividly to life.

Dick Rauh — 96 years young — describes what the class has done for him. So do others, of many ages and from 4 continents. Patty melds them all into a young-feeling, tight-knit group that fulfills the Y’s dual mission of promoting healthy living and creating community.

AquaFit helped Patty herself through a dark time of her life, which she describes movingly.

But “Below Surface” is bright and alive — just like those morning classes. The cinematography makes it shine.

The film has been screened at festivals around the country, and won the “Next Great Filmmaker Award” at the Berkshires International Film Festival. It will be shown October 19 (noon, New Haven Public Library) at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival.

Now through October 1, you can watch it for free, thanks to the virtual World Peace Film Festival. Just click here.

It will be the most uplifting 19 minutes of your week.

(For the “06880” back story on “Below Surface,” click here.)


The start of tomorrow’s Long Lots School Building Committee meeting has been changed.

The new time is 6 p.m. (it was originally 6:30). That’s Thursday, September 28, in Town Hall Room 201/201A.

It’s a 6 p.m. start tomorrow for the Long Lots School Building Committee.


Conservation Director Colin Kelly has responded to complaints about crabbing at Sherwood Mill Pond. He says:

“The Westport Conservation Department reminds Westport residents that the act of crabbing is allowed and is covered by Connecticut Department of Engergy and Environmental Protection fishing regulations.

“People have the legal right to access state waters and fish for Blue Crab. The taking of Blue Crab requires no license, and there is no daily limit during the open season from May1 – November 30. The Conservation Office does not regulate the taking of crabs from the pond. The Sherwood Mill Pond Advisory Committee and the Shellfish Commission do not have authority to restrict the crabbing either.

“To clarify, this does not mean the Town has ignored the public requests for checking the crabbing. In fact, the Westport Police Department have conducted more than 50 patrols of Sherwood Mill Pond this summer. They have interacted with the individuals who are crabbing, they have actively provided education, and they have checked the catches to ensure proper measurements are being followed.

“The officers have used Infrared cameras to confirm that individuals were taking crabs and that any clams they have seen were dumped. They have worked individually and in conjunction with CT DEEP Encon Police. Officers have been proactive in responding to calls and will continue to provide our Town with this response.

“We want to inform the public that over 70 parking tickets have been issued along Hillspoint Road and the Old Mill parking lot in the last few weeks. One night alone had over 30 parking tickets issued. The Police Department will continue their oversight, including adding additional tactics in the future, to ensure that the laws are followed.”

Crabbing at Sherwood Mill Pond.


For several years, Saugatuck Rowing Club has commemorated loved ones lost to breast cancer — and raised funds for survivors — by turning the Saugatuck River pink.


Names are read aloud, and rose petals scattered into the Saugatuck River. They’re then swept out to sea.

This year’s “River of Roses” charity soirée is set for Sunday (October 1, 1 to 4 p.m.; ceremony at 3).

The $75 ticket includes  (of course) rosé cocktails, raw bar, charcuterie, lobster and pumpkin bisque, clam chowder, apple crisp, Donut Crazy and a cash bar, plus live music by Fake ID.

Proceeds support SurviveOAR, the empowering, supportive community that provides mental, physical and emotional healing to women with breast cancer after traditional treatment ends.

Six members will be compete in Head of the Charles race next month.

Click here for tickets, or to buy roses ($25 each). Click below, for highlights of the 2019 event.


Parents of children with special needs have plenty to think about.

Including finances.

Westporter Kimberly Greenberg — a Morgan Stanley vice president — leads a free breakfast seminar for parents and caregivers, called “Protecting the Future for Your Child With Special Needs.”

Financial experts will share first-hand experiences on October 3 (9:30 a.m., STAR, 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk_. Tours of the renovated STAR center, including the new assistive technology lab and lending library, are also available.

To reserve a spot, or for more information, email


This event has flown under the radar. But it’s an important one.

Tomorrow (Thursday, September 28, 10 a.m., Westport Library), Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, state Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Ronald Welch and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker will recognize the service of Westport veterans who served during the Vietnam War era.

There will be a color guard, national anthem, and more.

Staples High School graduate Tim Barmmer was killed in Vietnam. He is memorialized at Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.


Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service’s Jenna Baumblatt has been named Connecticut’s 2023 EMS Youth Corps Member of the Year.

The 18-year-old joined WVEMS as an Emergency Medical Responder 4 years ago, and is now an Emergency Medical Technician. She also serves on the WVEMS board of directors.

EMS runs deep in her family. Her dad Rick is a WVEMS staff paramedic; her mom Lynn is a paramedic at Norwalk Hospital EMS, and her brother James is an EMT in Bridgeport.

WVEMS president Michael Burns calls Jenna “an amazing person and caregiver who maintains multiple jobs, in addition to her volunteer service. She is an amazing asset!”

Jenna Baumblatt


Pam Rouleau is running a fundraiser with Nuvance Health for the Integrative Medicine Department at the Smilow Breast Cancer Center.

She photographed 13 people who have battled cancer — or still are — and depicted them along with their stories of survivorship.

Several members of the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s “SurviveOARS” team are included. Rouleau is a Survive-OARS rower too.

A reception is set for October 3, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the State Capitol in Hartford. It will then be on view through October 30. Click here for details.

Kimberly Wilson, Westport resident and Saugatuck SurviveOARS member.


Grammy Award-winning pianist Dave Kikoski headlines tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, September 28, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

Kikoski is known for his adept post-bop style and spontaneous swinging play. He has worked with artists like Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Al Foster, Bob Berg, Michael and Randy Brecker, Chris Potter and others.

He’ll be joined by bassist Yuriy Galkin, drummer Vinnie Sperazza and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall. Reservations are highly recommended:


Enjoy a trivia night — virtually, and for a great cause.

Tomorrow (Thursday, September 28, 7 p.m.), Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County hosts “Quiz for a Cause.” All proceeds support arts education for children, primarily those with special needs.

First prize is 2 round trip airline tickets, from Avelo Airlines. Second prize is a gift from Westporter Christian Siriano’s The Collective West. Third prize is 5 private music lessons at Neighborhood Studios.

Participants are asked for a minimum donation of $45. Click here to register, and for more information.


Maintenance and upkeep of Baron’s South has gone to the birds.

So it’s not surprising that a flock of turkeys has taken over Golden Shadows, the “mansion” once occupied by Baron Walter Langen von Langendorff and his wife.

Morley Boyd spotted them, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Morley Boyd)


And finally … today is the 120th anniversary of “the wreck of the old 97.” The mail train crash was not the worst rail disaster ever — though 11 people died, and 7 more were injured — but it lives on, thanks to folks like Johnny Cash.

(“06880” loves delivering news like today’s lead story, about Patty Kondub’s AquaFit movie. If you love the news “06880” delivers, please click here to support local journalism. Thank you!)


5 responses to “Roundup: AquaFit, Crabbing, River of Roses …

  1. Just watched Below Surface– What a fabulous short film! The movie is a great reminder of the well documented linkage between interpersonal connection and health.

  2. What a wonderful film! Physical movement and interpersonal relationships are so important for our longevity, Cheers Patty!

  3. Maybe some of the crabbers would like to be Unsung Heroes in Italy where the crabs are destroying the clamming industry.
    “Italian fishing communities in the north of the country are fighting an invasion of predatory blue crabs which risks jeopardising the economy of whole regions, authorities have said.”

  4. Back in the early 2000’s I approached the town with a proposal to rent from them and I would renovate the Baron’s South mansion to use for catered events and weddings. They just couldn’t wrap it up/commit 🤔

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